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A Set-Up Guide for New Chinchilla Parents

Tips for habitat, grooming and fun


Four things to know about your new chinchilla

  • Chinchillas can live about 10 years
  • They grow to about 10 inches long (16 inches if you include the tail)
  • Chinchillas are most active at dawn and dusk
  • They’re best for parents with experience with smaller pets

Your chinchilla’s home

Chinchillas can live in groups, so long as the groups are all-male or all-female. They’ll need a cage or hutch that’s large enough for a food dish, water bottle, hay manger and hiding house. A chinchilla home with multiple levels is best because it helps them get their exercise.

“Chinchies” love to hide and burrow. Provide various hide houses for them within their cage. You can even find edible ones made out of hay! They’ll need a home with a solid floor; in a multilevel cage the bottom layer can be covered with 3 to 4 inches of aspen or recycled-paper bedding. Remove droppings frequently, spot-clean the bedding weekly, and replace it completely once a month.

Chinchillas have very warm, dense coats. They like to chill in a home that’s between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, out of direct sunlight, and in an area with low humidity. Pay attention to temperature, these pets are quite sensitive to heat over 80 F. Consider a marble cooling slab — called a “chin-chiller” — which you can freeze and then put in the habitat to cool down your pet.

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Playing & grooming

Chinchillas like working out. Your pet will need a chinchilla specific exercise wheel (be sure it’s well-oiled; your chinchilla will be using it at night), chew toys (their teeth grow all the time), and a hide house for privacy. You can even get an edible hide house, which your chinchilla can gnaw on.

Chinchillas groom often and need frequent “bathing”, but never with water. Instead, they require dust baths. About two or three times a week, fill a clean container with an inch of a special powder called chinchilla dust. Let your pet romp around in there for 5 to 10 minutes. The chinchilla dust settles near the skin, soaking up oil and grime.

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Help keep your chinchilla healthy

With regular, gentle handling, chinchillas will bond with their pet parents. Be prepared for occasional, gentle nipping, as they use their mouths to become familiar with their environment. Try not to handle new chinchillas for three or four days after bringing them home, to give them time to adjust.

Even a settled-in chinchilla can feel sick. If you notice any of these symptoms, contact a veterinarian:

  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Lethargic behavior
  • Bare patches in fur
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth
  • Diarrhea or discolored droppings


Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured ™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well-being of our pets. Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.

The PetSmart Promise: If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.